Hunt The Front Super Dirt Series

Ryan Gustin cashes $15,000 payday with Hunt the Front Super Dirt Series in first series start


Hunt The Front Super Dirt Series

Ryan Gustin cashes $15,000 payday with Hunt the Front Super Dirt Series in first series start

MARYVILLE, Tenn. ( April 27) — Ryan Gustin didn’t plan on spending his weekend in East Tennessee. But when his originally scheduled events in Oklahoma and Kansas were rained out, the World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series regular pointed his rig east along with team owner Todd Cooney and newly-added teammate Hall-of-Fame driver Billy Moyer.

The Hunt the Front Super Dirt Series’ event at Roger Sellars’s 3/8-mile Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, Tenn., — Saturday’s richest race on the dirt Late Model calendar — seemed like a good place to visit.

Nice decision.

Leading all 50 laps from the pole position, Gustin, of Marshalltown, Iowa, picked up his first career Hunt the Front victory and his second win of 2024 in Smoky Mountain’s annual King of the Mountain race. He finished 1.774 seconds ahead of fellow front row starter Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., while Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., who briefly challenged Gustin for the lead midway through the race, finished third. After starting 13th, Chris Ferguson of Mt. Holly, N.C., improved nine spots to finish fourth, and seventh-starting Donald McIntosh of Dawsonville, Ga., completed the top five.

"I kept seeing Brandon (Overton) poke his nose down there,” said Gustin. “I knew that he was obviously going to be good, him and Dale (McDowell) both. I knew I was stuck down on the bottom. I was afraid to get out there and get in that dust, but it held us every time. This Infinity race car here was on rails all night, Jay Dickens engine run flawless. It was a hell of a night.

McDowell was second on the opening lap, but gave way to Overton on a lap-two restart and ran third for the next 41 circuits. He repaid the favor on a lap-43 restart and chased Gustin from second the rest of the way. Gustin eased out to a lead of a second or more over the remaining six laps, however, and then easily held off McDowell following a restart with five laps remaining.

“We fought tight all night,” said McDowell. “Our times were really good early and we fought tight a little bit. We didn’t want to mess it up too bad, so (team owner and crew chief) Shane (McDowell) didn’t change enough, just as a safety to not get off track from where we were.”

Like McDowell, Gustin said his Infinity by Wells machine — one of two such cars in the race joined only by Overton — was a little snug early on as well. But he was dialed in by the time the feature rolled around.

“I was a little bit (tight) in the heat,” said Gustin. “(Crew chief) Tim (Douglas) made some adjustments for the feature and that thing drove right around there. Couldn’t ask for a better race car. I love this place. We were here a couple years ago and ran good also. Hats off to the track prep crew also. Thank you to them of putting a little extra water on it and making sure we had something to race on and we did. I can’t thank them enough for that.”

During his post-race interview, Overton, who maintained his series points lead by 14 markers over Chris Ferguson, was complimentary of the track surface as well.

“We’re not really worried about the points. We get our race car good and we’ll win, so we won’t have to worry about it,” Overton said. I’m glad they waited to get us on the track and they put a little more effort in it. The track turned out really nice.”

The race was slowed by three cautions. Hall of Famer Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., drew the first caution after slipping over the top of the track and stopping on the opening lap. Bloomquist, who started fourth, made only five laps before retiring and being credited with 28th. After 37 green flag laps, Cla Knight of North Augusta, S.C., hit the turn-one wall to draw the second caution. The final yellow waved when sixth-running Sam Seawright of Fort Payne, Ala., tagged the front-stretch wall and spun to a stop against the wall in turn one.

The Hunt the Front Super Dirt Series is back in action with a May 3-4 Carolina doubleheader. The series visits Ultimate Motorsports Park in Elkin, N.C., for a $10,000-to-win program on Friday, May 3 and then shifts two hours south for a $20,000-to-win event at Lancaster (S.C.) Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 4.

Article Credit: Robert Holman | Simple Moments Photography

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